7 Bad Distributor Cap Symptoms: What Is a Distributor Cap and What Symptoms Indicate It Needs to Be Replaced

For a car to function properly, it is necessary that all the elements that make it up are in optimal condition, no matter how big or small it is.


The distributor, for example, is an element of the ignition system in gasoline, ethanol and gas engines that sends the high voltage electrical current, coming from the ignition coil, through a rotor in the order required by the ignition cycle. from each of the cylinders to the spark plugs of each of them.


From there, the distributor cap transfers electricity to the spark plugs through a series of spark plug wires. This entire process occurs each time the engine's cylinders demand a spark to ignite the air-fuel mixture within them for combustion.


So if your car still has a distributor, it is very important that you keep it in good condition and if you detect that the distributor cap is in bad condition, you should change it immediately.


Symptoms indicate that the distributor cap needs to be replaced


1.- Problems starting the car


You need a functional distributor cap and rotor to start the car. Without that electrical spark in the combustion chamber, the engine won't start.


2.- Engine noises


If you start to hear high-pitched squeals after starting your car, you may have a dirty distributor cap to the point that it is covered in grease and other buildup. But if you hear a tapping or clicking sound, then your lid or rotor is no longer good.


3.- The car shakes


Severe bumps can occur in your vehicle when you start it or change gears. This shaking is a sign that you are having engine trouble for some reason. You will feel the vibrations through the seats because they are so intense.


Typically this is one of the signs that your distributor cap is bad.


4.- That the engine stops


A faulty distributor cap can cause the engine to stall. The rotary distributor rotor must produce voltage to keep the motor running. If the rotor is not turning properly, the engine loses power and stalls while trying to drive.


What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Distributor in a Car?

A bad distributor can wreak havoc on your engine. In order to fix your car problem, you first need to know how to troubleshoot so you can determine what exactly is wrong.

A bad distributor usually presents a variety of symptoms that can often be associated with faults with it. Knowing what to look for beforehand can save you time and unnecessary expense later.

Unexplained tremor

A classic sign that your distributor is malfunctioning is an unexplained shaking whenever the car is started. This can range from a vibrating sensation to a more pronounced shaking that can be felt throughout the vehicle.

This shaking may indicate that the distributor is not turning properly and thus is affecting timing and the ignition process.

With faulty distributor caps, this type of shaking is frequently noticed when the car is sitting at rest or comes to a complete stop while running, such as when stopped at a red light or stop sign.

Difficulty turning on

Another classic symptom that may indicate that your distributor is malfunctioning is difficulty starting the vehicle. This is commonly seen when the vehicle is being started in areas with low outside temperatures as a result of a lack of protection.

The heat blast that occurs as a result of an engine running on the cold distributor cap, which is covered in plastic, is frequently the cause of the distributor cap cracking under the stress of heat and this is most often seen on cars kept outside or in unheated garages.

To avoid this, check the distributor cap frequently for signs of cracks and try to keep the vehicle in a protected environment whenever possible during periods of colder weather.

High pitched squeak

Another indicator that your distributor is malfunctioning is a high-pitched grinding noise that occurs when you start the vehicle.

If everything else on your car seems to be working properly, stop it and check under the distributor cap. This cap is often hardened by contaminants and grease.

This buildup sometimes causes the distributor cap to make a grinding noise as air circulates through the engine.

If after cleaning the cap the noise continues, a complete new distributor may be required. This is normally something that should be diagnosed by a trained mechanic who works with dealers on a regular basis.

Bad Distributor Symptoms

The distributor of the cars is an electromechanical axis in charge of applying tension to the spark plug. There are also electronic versions with the same functions in recent cars; that are controlled by computers. In other words; The distributor provides energy that the spark plug converts into a spark for internal combustion. As its name suggests, it "distributes" power between the spark plugs via wires.

The automatic distributor consists of a rotor, carbon brushes and lead wires. These wires are easy to identify because they are attached to the top of the spark plug. On the other hand, they can also have electronic switches or chips to close the circuit when the car is parked.

How To Spot A Failing Distributor

Bad distributors often have multiple symptoms, usually related to failure. Knowing what to look for in advance can save you time and unnecessary expense in the future.

Unexplained tremor

The typical sign of your distributor failing is that every time the car starts, it jerks inexplicably. The range varies from vibrations to more obvious jerks that can be felt throughout the vehicle. This shaking can indicate that the distributor is not turning properly and therefore affect the timing and process of ignition.

Difficulty starting

Another typical symptom that can indicate a malfunction is difficulty starting the vehicle. This is usually seen when the vehicle is started in an area with a low outside temperature due to lack of protection. A thermal explosion caused by the running engine on a cold distributor cap. The distributor cap is covered in plastic. This is usually the cause of the distributor cap cracking under thermal stress. The most common situation is to keep it outdoors or in a garage. And there is no heated car. To avoid this situation, check the distributor cover frequently for signs of cracking and keep the vehicle in a protected environment as much as possible during colder weather.

Abnormal acceleration

It can also be a distributor when the car accelerates inconsistently, faster or slower than normal, or when you hear small crackling noises from the exhaust. Because combustion is "uneven", gas emissions can also be abnormal. Confirm that the exhaust system is in good condition.

Ignition distributor parts

Cover: This is a circular design. According to the number of spark plugs in the engine, sprockets with sprockets can be provided. These small holes extend from the top and each spark plug wire inserts into the inside of the cover. There is a contact attached to the rotor, which is made of hard, heat-resistant plastic.

Platinum: These are electrical switches, actuated by a cam, and then actuated by the distributor shaft to alternately open and close them, finally sending current to the ignition coil.

Condenser: It is a cylindrical element in which a small wire protrudes, and the end of the wire has a hole connected to the distributor adjusted by screws. This distributor element reduces the arc generated on the platinum contacts, and the platinum contacts are not damaged by the capacitor.

Rotor: Through this cooperation to support the distributor, it is expected that the high voltage can move from the cap to the outlet of each hole. The rotor works by turning, and in the upper part of its main body there is a plate that receives the electrical discharge from the coil so that the rotor itself distributes the spark to the spark plugs. Regarding the sequence of the holes in the distributor cap, I have talked a lot about the sequence of the spark plugs as the complete cable.

You may be wondering what the order is, because it is generally as follows: On an inline four cylinder engine, it is 1, 3, 4, 2. Of course, the number 1 is closest to the distributor, that is, the spark plug wire is the shortest, so Order according to the size of the wires, because number 4 is the longest wire because it is the farthest from the hole in the distributor cap that it must be connected to.

Signs of a Bad Distributor failing symptoms no spark out of time leaks oil make noise cap and rotor

[youtube v=F1nDZLRmOWU]

Signs of Worn Distributor Cap and Rotor

[youtube v=6nfXiJnr-7w]

7 Signs Of A Worn Distributor Cap And Rotor-Look Out For Them

[youtube v=N97g50-0Msg]

A bad distributor can wreak havoc on your engine. To fix your car problem, you first need to know how to fix it to determine what exactly the problem is. A bad distributor will typically exhibit a variety of symptoms, which can often be recognized as being distributor related. Knowing what to look for in advance can save you unnecessary time and expense later on.

Distributor Rotor Failures

Chances of ignition distributor rotor failures  are mostly distributor issues and are common from a car ignition distributor as this rotor for distributor in ignition has a working.

Function of the distributor rotor:

The distributor rotor is responsible for supplying energy to the system, which is nothing more than an Otto cycle, but let's see the symptoms of the distributor rotor.

How do you know if the distributor rotor is bad?

So how to know if the distributor is failing or what may be happening to the motor rotor

First you need the current supplier rotor to be good so let's start by knowing what hurts this piece that looks like a circle with fins or blades that is essential for our energy distributor for the spark of our engine and these ignition parts usually cause problems.

Defective distributor rotors and housing, better known as distributor caps, will produce a few symptoms that alert the driver to the need for maintenance.

What is wrong with the distributor?

The failures of the electronic distributor are the following that may be happening to you and here we will solve your question of how to know if a distributor is not working.

1. Engine

failure Engine failure can occur for various reasons. Checking the rotor and distributor cap to see if they need to be replaced is one way to make sure everything is in good working order.

2. Car won't start

When the distributor cap isn't tight enough or is malfunctioning, the engine can't send the spark through all the circuitry needed to move the cylinders, ultimately causing the car to run.

3. Check engine light comes on

Your Check Engine light can mean a number of different things, but when you see this light on along with some of the other symptoms listed here, it's time to call a professional to see what the code is from your car's computer..

4. Excessive or unusual engine

noises You will hear very strange noises if the distributor rotor and cap are not working properly, specifically because the cylinders will try to fire but fail. You may hear a knocking, clicking, or sputtering sound when the distributor rotor and cap are failing.

Now you know all the faults in the distributor that can occur, but first you must have tested the spark plug cables well and everything from back to front or as the repair manual says.

Why is the distributor rotor burning?

The most common cause is that if it burns, it is too much consumption of the coil and you should put the original one. 

What are distributor cap failures?

A bad distributor cap starts by distributing less current to the spark plugs, leading to hard starts, lack of power and excessive consumption. Finally it ends up breaking down, it stops distributing current to the spark plugs and the vehicle does not start.

How to know if the distributor cap is bad? What are the symptoms of a bad distributor in a car?

Unexplained tremor. A classic sign that your distributor is malfunctioning is an unexplained shaking whenever the car is started....

Difficulty starting....

High-pitched squeak.

What happens if the engine is not ready?

When the ignition is advanced, the pitting of the connecting rods is noticeable. Instead, when it is LATE, that is when a heating occurs. The spark jumps too late, and the energy that is not transformed into work, does so into heat, which is why the car runs less and heats up more.

What is the timing cover?

The distributor cap has the purpose of giving a precise ignition sequence in the different cylinders of the engine. The distributor caps receive the high voltage current from the coils and distribute it, through the rotating distributor, to the spark plugs.

How to test the stator of an electric motor?

Unplug the stator connector, which is located on the left side of the motor, before testing it. The stator coil has three yellow wires connected to it. Touch the negative and positive leads of the multimeter to the connectors on the three yellow wires coming out of the stator coil.

What are the faults of a distributor?

What is the function of the distributor rotor?

The rotor distributes the spark in an orderly fashion: at each turn it delivers spark to the spark plug connectors, either from right to left or from left to right (depending on which way the distributor turns). Distributor Cap: The coil sends the spark to the center connector of the cap.

What function does the distributor brush have?

The brush is then the rotating pin that acts as an energy bridge, the distributor cap has the cable contacts distributed at its ends and each time the tip of the brush passes through each of the terminals, the circuit is closed and energy flows.

How to know if the motor is out of time? How to know if the timing belt is damaged or needs to be changed?

More smoke from the exhaust pipe.

It doesn't turn on right away.

Car and engine shake more than normal.

Car shuts off while driving.

Problems in the direction of the car.

Irregular sounds in the belt area.

What if the engine is behind schedule?

Consequences of excessive ignition advance The main one is that power is lost on ignition, in addition to a detonation phenomenon that increases engine noise or can affect parts such as pistons and exhaust valves.

How to know if the dealer is ahead or behind?

That generation of the spark before the piston reaches top dead center is what is known as ignition advance. If the spark occurs after that ideal moment, that is, with insufficient advance, what exists is a delayed ignition.

How do you know when to change the distributor cap? When to change the distributor cap?

Presence of moisture.

Presence of cracks.

Scale on the terminals.

The thickness of the central coal has decreased.

What is a distributor in a car?

Before we start replacing distributor, let's talk about what a distributor is. You may never have heard of a Distributor before, especially if you are a Millennial or Gen Z member.

A distributor is an ignition component that, as its name suggests, distributes a spark to each of the engine's spark plugs. Voltage is sent from the ignition coil to the distributor cap through a spark plug wire. This voltage then moves from the center terminal of the cap to the rotor located inside the distributor.

As the distributor turns, the rotor also turns, distributing voltage to each of the outer terminals of the cap, one at a time. The voltage then moves from each of the distributor's outer terminals, through the individual spark plug wires, to each of the spark plugs. The spark plug then ignites, igniting the air/fuel mixture inside the engine.

In most cases, the car's distributor also contains a trigger mechanism (usually a pickup coil) that monitors the rotation of the distributor. The mechanism sends a signal to the engine control module or the ignition control module. In some cases, the ignition module can also be located inside the distributor.

The module uses information from the trigger mechanism, as well as data from other engine sensors, to determine when to disconnect the spark plugs. To do the job, the module interrupts the current in the primary windings of the ignition coil, creating enough voltage in the secondary windings of the coil to fire the spark plugs. In this way, the car's electronics can control the ignition timing, which is the precise moment in which the spark is sent to each of the engine's cylinders.

Most distributors have a gear on the bottom. This gear meshes with a gear on the camshaft. The distributor is pulled off the camshaft so that the ignition timing and engine timing are in sync. On older vehicles, the distributor can be turned to adjust the base ignition timing. But the basic timing is often fixed on newer vehicles.

Also, in many cases the distributor has the secondary purpose of driving the engine's oil pump.

How do you know if your distributor is bad?

The distributor cap and rotor are the main components in the distributor. Even in the latest cars, the components connected to the camshaft have been removed and replaced with the ECU.

When the car engine is running, the ignition coil or coil will produce a high voltage and sent by the distributor.

The distributor rotor will then rotate, create a spark, and distribute the spark to each spark plug via the spark plug wire.

Then the spark plug uses the spark to burn the fuel, and because of this your car can keep running.

The distributor cap and rotor are components that must be kept clean, by performing a clean inspection you can maintain and extend the service life of your car's distributor cap and rotor.

Also pay attention to whether there is cable damage, burn marks are usually black on the lid connection and distributor rotor visually to check whether there is damage or not.

The function of the distributor cap is to protect the rotor and components in the distributor, the next function is to conduct current from the high-voltage coil to the rotor and then to the spark plug wires of each cylinder. The distributor cap can be fastened as a place for plugging spark plug wires and high-voltage wires.

When you already know the shape and function of the distributor cap, then how do you check the distributor cap?

1. Remove the distributor cap from the distributor, then remove the spark plug wire and the high-voltage cable attached to the distributor cap.

2. Check the distributor cap for damage, dirt, cracks, burns or dirty cable holes. Analysis: If the terminal is dirty, rusty or moldy, it needs to be cleaned, you can clean it with sandpaper or the like. If it is damaged or dirty it needs to be replaced because it can cause current leakage.

3. Check for burnt/scorched terminals. Analysis: If it is charred or burned, it needs to be replaced, because it is damaged.

4. Also check the center spring, if it is weak replace the spring. This is what conducts current from the ignition coil to the rotor.

Symptoms that indicate that your car needs to replace the distributor cap and rotor:

1. The car doesn't start at all or it takes a long time to start

2. Abnormal sound and noise in the car engine

3. Check engine light is on

4. The machine is stuck so that sometimes it turns on and suddenly turns off

How important is this service?

If the distributor rotor and distributor cap are damaged, the voltage from the ignition coil or coil will not be distributed to the spark plugs, and your engine will have trouble running.

There's even a chance your car won't run at all if your distributor has a problem.

One of the causes of damage to the distributor cap and rotor is that once the vehicle is started, it is immediately driven. Or with cold temperatures starting the car and using it immediately can damage the distributor cap and rotor.

Another thing that is common is that the distributor cannot distribute the sparks throughout the circuit, so the engine cannot start in this condition. Immediately contact a mechanic near you if problems like this arise in your car.